She wants her presence in the mag to spark "meaningful conversation" and to help "break down stereotypes about the LGBTQ community."

Chris Graythen/Staff/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue has come a long way since Robyn Lawley took the honor of becoming the "first-plus-sized" model to appear on its cover in 2015. Since then, the magazine has taken strides to become even more inclusive by featuring women of all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Models like Ashley Graham, Veronica Pome, and Tara Lynn continue to grace the pages of the magazine, and Halima Aden recently earned a spread to herself, making her the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the publication.

Now, USA Soccer superstar, Megan Rapinoe is the first openly gay woman to pose for the publication along with three of her teammates: Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, and Alex Morgan. And Rapinoe will be the first to tell you why that's such a big deal.

"I think it's really quite a bold statement by Sports Illustrated, to be honest, because it has been seen as sort of this magazine only for heterosexual males," Rapinoe told SI Swim. "I think so often with gay females in sports, there's this particular stereotype about it and there's such a narrow view of what it means to be gay and be athletic. So to kind of just blow that up and do something totally different, I think, is really important."

In a separate interview with SI Swim about the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's fight for gender equality, Rapinoe urged readers to stop viewing women who pose in swimsuits through a male lens, since the idea of being sexy just for men is "kind of archaic." (Related: Does the Fitness Industry Have a "Sexy-Shaming" Problem?)

"I think women, in general, have been so limited and put into such tight boxes for so long," she to the pub. "There’s the assumption that everyone is posing for men, which I'm very much not, and I think probably the majority of women aren't. It's okay to be sexy, it's okay to wear a swimsuit, it's OK to want to do that."

Rapinoe hopes that her work with SI Swim will continue to break barriers and spark change. "I think our view is still way too narrow of gay people in general," she said. "Stereotypes still very much persist and they are just such incomplete views of who we really are as people, so I think for that reason it's really important to just continue to push those boundaries."

Props to Rapinoe for using her platform to advocate for equality and for reminding the world that sometimes, women want to feel empowered by their sexuality for themselves, and absolutely no one else.


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